Acupuncture: Traditional Chinese Medicine
Introduction to Acupuncture
This is one of the oldest Traditional Chinese Medical techniques and is commonly used as a complementary and alternative medical treatment. In this technique, practitioners stimulate specific points on the body usually by inserting thin needles through the skin. There are as many as 2000 acupuncture points on the human body that are connected by 12 main meridians. Scientifically, the working behind acupuncture is still unclear. However, one line of belief suggests that it works by balancing the vital energy, while the other school of thought believes it has a neurological effect.
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture, an invasive therapy, is believed to restore the normal flow of energy, hence restoring the mind and body health. Based on neuroscientific studies, the acupuncture points are places where nerves, muscles, and connective tissue can be stimulated to increase blood flow and trigger the activity of the body’s immune system.
The needles used are solid and hair-thin. They are generally inserted no more than half-inch to an inch deep into the skin, depending on the type of treatment. The session takes 30-60 minutes depending on the condition. Electropuncture, which is a modification of acupuncture, uses needles to which electrical current is applied to treat neuromuscular disorders.
Effect of Acupuncture on the body
The Acupuncture points are believed to stimulate the central nervous system which results in the release of chemicals in the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These biochemical changes stimulate the body’s natural healing abilities and promote physical and emotional well-being.
It may seem like the needles being poked at various points may cause pain. However, that is not the case. The needles used in acupuncture are as thin as hair and cause minimal pain. They are inserted to a point that it causes a sensation of pressure or ache ultimately resulting in the person feeling energized and even relaxed.
Types of Acupuncture
The acupuncture points may not always be stimulated with the help of needles. There are other techniques to stimulate these points, such as:
- Moxibustion – A form of heat therapy in which dried plant materials called ’moxa’ are burned on or near the surface of the skin at the acupuncture points.
- Acupressure – Using fingers to stimulate pressure points on the body.
- Cupping – Using vacuum-filled cupping instruments to suction the pressure points with stimulate it.
- Electropuncture – Applying electric current to the acupuncture needles and stimulating the pressure points.
Benefits of Acupuncture
Some of the benefits of acupuncture therapy are:
- Chronic pain relief.
- Relieves headaches and migraines.
- Lower back pain relief.
- Stress management.
- Weight loss.
- Smoking cessation.
- Osteoarthritis and knee pain relief.
- Helps treat Carpal tunnel syndrome.
Risks associated with Acupuncture
Acupuncture therapy, although having very few side effects, have a few risks associated with its use, such as:
- It is not recommended for people with bleeding disorders or who take blood thinners.
- The insertion sites may get bruised, may bleed, and be sore.
- Infection due to unsterilized needles.
- Damaging of internal organ due to needle breakage.
- A risk of collapsed lung if the needle is inserted deeply into the chest or upper back.
Acupuncture therapy being an invasive technique, it is highly recommended to get it performed only by a trained professional in order to eliminate maximum of the risks. Make sure to consult your physician and a trained acupuncturist regarding the best treatment approach for you. If performed correctly, acupuncture is a very effective complementary technique for pain relief and better health.
Some Common After Effects Of Acupuncture Session Everyone Should Know
Fatigue – This generally disappears a few hours after taking the treatment, but for some people, it lasts for up to three days. This is quite common at the beginning of the session and one must not worry about it. It is actually a warning sign that your body needs rest and you need to take care of it. Only acupuncture cannot heal you completely, you need some self-care also.
Soreness – The body parts were the needles are inserted can feel a little sore after the treatment. This happens commonly in sensitive areas like hands, feet or large intestine. Usually, the soreness disappears after 24 hours from the treatment, but in some cases, it may last for a few days. Muscle twitching is also common post acupuncture.
Lightheadedness – Few people also experience lightheadedness post-treatment. If you feel so, then take some rest after taking the treatment. Do not get up immediately after the treatment, lay down on the acupuncture table for some time and take some deep breath. Also, to avoid such a situation, always eat something before your session.
Emotional Outburst – Sometimes people cry or feel too emotional during acupuncture. This does not happen because the treatment is too painful. It is because of the release of certain energy, which may lead to an emotional outburst. Acupuncture helps to heal both your physical and mental issues, so the emotional release is also a sign that the treatment is working.
Bruising – Slight bruising at the needling site is also very common after acupuncture. This happens due to the collection of blood at the site where the needle punctures the skin. Bruising lasts longer than soreness, but still, there is nothing to worry about it.
Acupuncture is a treatment from Traditional Chinese medicine. Fine needles are inserted in certain body sites for therapeutic or preventive purposes.
Acupuncture practitioners choose specific points to place the needles based on your pain point. Several points may be used during a typical session, depending on the number of symptoms you have. The needles are kept in position for a specific length of time.
Post the session it is important to consider the below points in consultation with your practitioner to optimize the effect of the treatment. These might be habits worth changing so that we can maintain our health and wellness for the long term.
- Keep a track of your own improvement, Notice the symptoms lessened or when they creep back up and try to discern why. Was it a sleeping position? Stress from work? Something you ate?
- Certain lifestyle changes required such as reduce or pause certain foods that may cause inflammation. Cold, sugary, too spicy, greasy foods should be avoided during a healing process. Lifestyle modifications are not always so easy but will result in lasting effects. This might also look like adjusting your work and computer set up, taking weekly yoga class, or decreasing your screen time at night.
- Hydrate and avoid alcohol. It is important to drink plenty of fluids so that your body can flush out what you don’t need. During acupuncture your body will want to naturally detox and staying hydrated will help with this process.
- Take good rest as healing requires your energy, which means you should not push yourself afterwards because it will ask your energy to work harder when it should be in a repair and heal mode. No working out until the next day. If you feel soreness after the treatment, up your water intake and wait until the soreness subsides before resuming workouts.
- Maintain your body in a constant state / environment. Keep yourself warm. After acupuncture, massage, cupping and/or any other type of body work, you should not take a shower or go swimming for 12-24 hours. This allows the treatment to remain in the body undisturbed.
- Pay attention to some of the things about your body and lifestyle you might not have paid attention to before. Sometimes I ask people how their sleep or digestion is and they realize it is not as great as it should be.
- BREATHE better. Take a pause and take 3 really deep breaths. This is very easy to accomplish! Breathing helps everything circulate and move really well in the body which makes you feel immediately good.
- There is a lot to reconcile within ourselves because we live in the modern world that draws us further from our natural selves. Simply being aware of this can help you to make small changes to incorporate a little more nature to your daily life.